The path of least resistance in generating new business is to pay attention to those customers who have already done business with you. It's about nurturing these relationships to create brand advocates which will lead to referrals.
Here are five things you can do to help build trust in your brand and create advocates for your products.
1) Be active in your community
People want to work with businesses who care about their city and neighborhood. Caring keeps the phone ringing.
"We encourage all of our employees to participate in the community by giving them time off to volunteer during the work week," says Bruce Kabat, a COO and partner of Adjusters International, Colorado Inc., a disaster recovery consulting organization.
It's not easy to find the keys to employee happiness, but Kabat's company has found it. "We match donations that employees makes to charities," he says, "and last year we gave an employee 3 months off to bicycle across the US to raise money for a charity that was important to him."
2) When you have good news, share it
Don't be afraid to broadcast your successes. Showcasing how you've assisted others in similar situations will provide social proof to your clients, and will increase the chances that they'll refer you to others. "Our team often requests reference letters and video testimonials from our satisfied clients," says Kabat.
3) Keep in touch with your past clients
"It doesn't matter how many contact's numbers you have in your phone," says Kabat, "what matters is how many people have your number in their phone."
Call your clients once a year just to check in on them, or send them your monthly newsletter. "Reach out to people in general when you don't need anything in return," says Kabat. "Make your cell phone number accessible and know how to best communicate with your network of business associates-do they prefer text, calls, emails or a social media? We encourage our producers to call all of their past clients regularly. This 'top of mind awareness' has really enabled us to drive referrals."
4) Know your strengths
Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you want to try something new in order to increase word of mouth referrals but you don't know how to make it happen, consider hiring an expert in that field to help you. "We tried to manage our social media in-house with little success," says Kabat. "Then we hired an independent contractor who specializes in social media and our campaign has been incredibly effective at generating new leads."
5) Conduct exit interviews
Customer feedback is crucial to the success of any company, whether it be for product iteration or referrals. No business owner is beyond improvement-that's why there's always value in a post-client survey. "They give you an opportunity to fix problems you may have overlooked," says Kabat.
They're also a great opportunity to ask for a referral.